Lemon Italian Cheesecake

It seems like I've been on a kick lately making food from recipes brought back from Positano, Italy. As soon as Mike and I returned from our Italian vacation, this was one of the first things we made for our family. After requesting the use of two additional Springform pans from my sister, we tackled making four cheesecakes in one weekend! We made two lemon and two raspberry cheesecakes.

Italian cheesecake differs from the New York style cheesecake in that it is not baked and has a lighter consistency. The original recipe calls for ricotta di bufalo (cheese made from an Italian water buffalo's milk), but unless you order that online, you won't be able to find that in the US. In America, the ricotta is made from cow's milk, which is a little saltier and wetter than the ricotta di bufalo. When I made the four cheesecakes, I used cannoli ricotta, which already was sweetened so I omitted the sugar. This time I used part-skim ricotta. It seems like the texture wasn't as smooth and creamy as the other batch, but the taste was still superb.

Since the Italian cheesecake is not baked, in order to thicken the filling gelatin is added. While in Italy, I was exposed to the use of gelatin sheets. The gelatin sheets were easy to use {soak in a little water until softened, then wring out the excess water} and less messy than the powdery gelatin. If in St. Louis, you can purchase the sheets at Kitchen Conservatory otherwise you can find them at Amazon.

The Italian Cheesecake recipe is courtesy of La Taverna del Leone. It will make one 8 inch cheesecake. The two smaller pictures above were taken in Italy at La Taverna del Leone. They depict the raspberry cheesecake variation. Below is the recipe for the lemon cheesecake which is displayed in the large main photo. Again, the recipe is in metric units. When in Italy, cook as the Italians! (June 20, 2014)

Ingredients for Lemon Italian Cheesecake

For crust 6 tablespoons melted butter, 100-120 grams Maria cookies (16 - 20 cookies) or plain graham crackers

For Cream filling

  • 250 g Ricotta, drained

  • 125 g cream cheese

  • 100 g powdered sugar

  • 10 g gelatin (silver grade sheets), place in cool water to soften, squeeze out excess water. Transfer to small bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of hot water to completely dissolve.

  • 200 g heavy whipping cream (organic), whip until stiff peaks form.

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions for Lemon Italian Cheesecake

  1. Lightly brush the bottom and sides of a 8 inch springform pan with butter or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.

  2. Break up cookies into food processor. Pulse until cookies are the consistency of sand. Place into a medium bowl. Add the melted butter to the crumbled cookies, mix together.

  3. Transfer cookie/butter mixture to springform pan. Press into the bottom and sides of the pan. Place in refrigerator until ready to fill.

  4. In a large bowl, mix together drained ricotta and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar and keep whipping. Pour the dissolved gelatin into the ricotta mixture, beat until smooth. Add lemon juice and zest. Mix.

  5. In a separate large bowl, beat cream (use clean, dry beaters) until stiff peaks form.

  6. Gently fold whipped cream (lighter) into ricotta mixture (heavier) until well combined.

  7. Remove springform from fridge. Pour the cream/ricotta mixture into the pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap. Allow to chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator or overnight.

Serving suggestions: top with candied lemons, fresh whip cream, or berries.